AMSTERDAM (AP) — The European Union has fined Microsoft Corp. €561 million ($733 million) for failing to live up to the terms of a settlement that was to end the company's 15-year run-in with the continent's competition regulators.
Here's a look at how a 1998 complaint by Sun Microsystems led to Microsoft receiving fines totaling €2.2 billion — $2.9 billion at today's exchange rates.
The Sun complaint was that Microsoft wouldn't turn over technical documents needed to build interfaces between their products. Over the years, the EU broadened its investigation to include whether Microsoft had abused Window's near-monopoly over the market for computer operating systems to corner other markets, including server software, streaming media software, and Internet browsers.
Here's how the case developed:
— March 24, 2004: The European Commission finds Microsoft guilty of breaking competition law and abusing its dominance in the operating system market. It fines the company €497 million. It also orders Microsoft to share technical documents with rivals and market a version of Windows without a media player.
— June 15, 2005: After losing an appeal, Microsoft makes Windows XP N — without Media Player — available. There are few takers. The same month, EU also raises concerns about the usability of Microsoft's technical documents.
— July 12, 2006: EU decides Microsoft isn't obeying the 2004 decision and penalizes it an additional €280.5 million.
— March 1, 2007: EU threatens Microsoft with even more penalties, accusing the company of further noncompliance by setting royalty fees too high for technical documents.
— Oct. 22: Microsoft agrees to slash fees for the technical documents. It also offers access to open source developers and others for a one-time fee of €10,000. Though this resolves key parts of the dispute, but the EU says Microsoft is still subject to penalties for its noncompliance until then.
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